“Who is ziss man?”
It must be ‘dodgy German accent’ weekend on tv. Last night we witnessed Patrick Troughton’s effort in Doctor Who and tonight it’s Roger Moore’s turn, passing himself off as a German officer near the end of the episode. Of course it’s set in Berlin, and later Leipzig so we get many other British actors, often playing characters named Hans, Fritz or Schmidt, giving it their best shot at ze vay zay speak in ze vor films. I was briefly tempted to start my own drinking game where I have a swig every time someone says the word “schnell!”, “halt!” Or “Dummkopf!” but it’s actually an entertaining episode so alcohol wasn’t needed. Pleasingly there are some genuine German actors among the cast too, and their authentic accents stand out a mile, showing all the English up!
So the plot: a civil servant called Eric Redman defects after stealing a secret document which contains a list of names, which he intends to give to the East Germans in exchange for his captured father’s release. The Saint is the only one who can identify him, so he is dispatched under protest to Berlin to bring him home.
There’s a scene set at Wimbledon where Templar gets his mission briefing. Amusingly the crowd are doing some comedy ball-following acting, heads swinging left to right and back as though they are sitting inches from the players. Some of them even keep their head direction in time with others.
This chap, Redman, I’ve seen before somewhere recently… A quick glance at TV Times reveals that he is Ronald Hines. Of course: he was in Out Of The Unknown the other week.
A long segment on a train where Templar has to deal with some German secret service men who are following him. A proper German accent from the one in charge. I like train scenes like this in films and tv, but rail travel in the sixties must have been a nightmare for other passengers with all these spies on board, fighting, running around with guns, barging through crowded carriages and throwing each other off.
This week’s token pretty lady is called Hanya. There’s an amazing moment where the police chief offers to find her a taxi, and after saying she can do it herself he delivers the marvellously sexist: “You are much too pretty to (find a taxi) yourself.” Yeah I know what it’s like, I get that all the time.
Being a German based episode we get some mild ‘lamp in face’ torture as Redman is captured and forced to talk. Never mind your modern water boarding, a bright light in the eyes is considered serious torture in the sixties. People will sing like a bird rather than tolerate enforced squinting.
At the airport The Saint becomes a Man In A Suitcase for one moment as Templar reveals his hiding place. Who’d have thought Roger Moore could fit inside a suitcase?! He then snogs a stranger to avoid being spotted by the police. I presume he’ll get arrested for sexual assault at some stage but he gets away with it for now. Being the sixties the lady probably enjoyed it anyway. And he does say “danke schön” afterwards so I suppose that’s fair enough.
This episode felt much more like James Bond or The Man From UNCLE with its international espionage, stolen files, air travel, train based shenanigans, secret police, disguises. One moment a classic spy thriller, the next a sixties war film with searchlights and jackboots. A bigger scale than any episode I’ve seen so far, covering no less than three countries. Perhaps they’re trying to compete with the current success of UNCLE. So, an ambitious episode, I enjoyed it. I wonder if we’ll get more like this…